Since beginning the endeavor of long distance running, I have come to realize, or more like God has taught me, how this sport is much like our Christian walk. There are surprisingly many similarities between running and the life of a Christian. These are simple, basic truths but I don’t believe we can be reminded of them too much. Even if running isn’t your thing, I encourage you to read on. Hopefully, you can get something out of this, I know I got a lot.
- Fuel : I’m sure you have heard it a million times “you get out what you out in”. It honestly amazes me how many things this saying can be applied to, but I'm talking about our relationship with God and running here so I’ll save that for another day. While I don’t believe in “bad foods” (except for maybe mushrooms), I do know that certain foods or food groups can definitely influence how you run. You have to fuel your body to run well. The same is true for the Christian life, except here I would definitely say some things are bad. Surrounding yourself with other solid Christians, listening to worship music, reading the Word daily, and praying are some of what I’ve come to call the “good fuel” for the Christian walk. I’m sure you’re able to guess the “bad fuel”. For me what comes to mind first is the opposites of the “good fuels” so, being around the wrong people and letting them influence your faith and beliefs negatively, reading and praying less or not at all, etc. What you put in and how much you put in WILL influence how your Christian walk is going to go. You might think it’s okay now but give it a few miles, and those five slices of pizza will catch up to you.
- Burn Out : Unless you have experienced this, you may not know what a “burn out” in running means. Basically, it when someone does too much running and not enough resting. In my opinion, it's the worst thing that can happen to a runner training for a race. These can be mental, physical, or both. Either you do so much running that you lose all desire to run or practice anymore, or your body gets so overworked that it essentially refuses to run (trust me, it’s awful). Hopefully you get my point. I have learned that this can happen in our Christian walk too, and many people do. A lot of people get too caught up doing things for God (or for comparisons sake, running), and not enough time actually WITH Him (resting). This leaves us in a constant state of go, go, go, going here and there, helping, serving, and while these are good things they can leave us tired and worn down spiritually. It's like we get to a point in doing these things and we wonder where God is, and then you look back and there God is, a few service projects ago when we decided we could do it without Him. I don’t think anyone intentionally leaves God out of things but it can and does happen. Sometimes we just need to step back, sit down, and get quiet and spend time with God, resting in His presence.
- Painful : I don’t think anyone needs to explain why running miles upon miles is painful. Aching muscles, blistered feet, missing toenails, burning lungs, do I need to go on? No one who has ever ran will tell you that it wasn't painful at some point (or several points). It’s the exact same in the Christian walk. It can get painful. You find yourself in situations that you don't know which way to go, sometimes it seems like God isn't listening, you’ll have rough days, weeks, maybe years. People may make fun of you; you may lose friends because of your beliefs. It isn’t going to be easy. It going to hurt sometimes. The only advice I know to give during these times of pain (for both living and running) is to keep moving forward, don’t stop, and pray.
- Beautiful : That’s right. I believe running is a beautiful thing. And believe it or not, a lot of people would agree with me. Running is my happy place, it doesn't have to be yours. It’s where I can get away with just God. It has become one of my quiet places. It is truly beautiful. I am also convinced that a Christian’s walk is beautiful, each one, in its own way. Part of the beauty is the uniqueness; the personal relationship between The Creator and His creature. It is something of explainable beauty.
If I could describe in one sentence what the Christian walk is like to me, it would be: It’s hard, it’s painful, it’s long, but it’s beautiful and worth every step.